Some PR posts and a mini rant…

So I’ve been trawling through my PR RSS feeds and I’m including some interesting posts below, but before I get to that indulge me for a moment… 

Mini rant: What was interesting in reviewing these posts is the fact that the ‘PR 2.0’ moniker continues to live.  What is PR 2.0?  Should my business card say that I’m a PR 1.0 practitioner, or a PR 1.7.5 practitioner or maybe I can get ahead and say I’m a PR 3.1 practitioner? Here’s a secret truth. There’s no PR 2.0.  There’s just PR.  PR practice is either good (using the right tools and channels to reach, inform and engage the right audience in the right place at the right time) or bad (not using the right tools and channels etc. etc.).  There’s no 2.0.  Stop trying to make yourself sound more interesting.

image The award for the most obvious statement(s) of the week goes to John Bell at Ogilvy in this PR Week story.  I was going to include a quote, but there’s too many. Far too many. Lord.
image Andrew Bruce Smith has an interesting post on whether PR really is about reputation management.


Aven Hames has a report on Paul Holmes’ predictions for PR in 2012 – there are some hardy annuals in there (e.g. PR in the executive suite).


Paul Seaman shares some interesting thoughts on the Edelman Trust Barometer. You can find more news and views on the Trust Barometer here.


Heather Yaxley has kicked off and interesting discussion “Are you too smart to work in PR”. David Reich also chimes in. I’m not Smile


Illustrating just how far behind I am with my RSS feeds here are 10 PR predictions for 2012 from Beth Monaghan.


Finally a nice post by Ariel Kouvaras on three things to keep in mind as the tools and channels of PR change and evolve.

  • Be curious
  • Be a thinker
  • Be open to change


Enough said.

Relax, PR will be around long after the hype has gone

Sometimes you happen upon a blog post title in your RSS reader (yep I’m old school) that grabs your attention. 

Great headlines work.

Unfortunately you then read the post and find it has the consistency of a marshmallow, it’s gooey and melts away pretty quickly and has little substance.

That was my reaction to to David Armano’s post: Does PR have a Future?

Now let me say up front that I’ve read and watched a lot of David’s content and opinions and I’m not questioning that he brings a lot of insight, and value to the whole social media discussion, but this post isn’t one of his high spots.

I thought it was a good excuse to address some of the PR and social media related observations you see expressed regularly.

Social media is increasingly being used across business – yes it is because social media is a set of tools and channels that can add business value in a number of areas including marketing, investor relations, research, sales and customer support.

Social media is the most important thing to business – no, I’m afraid not.  It is of course important and useful, but you’ll find that financial management, creating great products, attracting and retaining great staff, providing great services and many other functions remain as important as ever – and arguably more important than some tools and channels. Will we no longer need sales people because ‘we’re all sales people’ and we’ll just put the products up on Facebook? Really?

Marketing/PR is dead, dying or going away – are you mad? Yes social media provides a great human interface to a company, yes it’s a powerful set of tools to reach and engage with people, but guess what, we still need people focused on the strategic imperatives of an organization, we still need people thinking beyond 140 characters.  When someone has an issue, what will they do? Will it be a great experience to send a random tweet in the hope it reaches someone who can help them? Really?

Everyone is a spokesperson – Firstly, I really marvel at how we make comments that ‘each employee becomes a representative of the company every time they engage in public’ like this is something new. It’s not. Of course social media amplifies the impact, but it’s not a eureka moment.  It presents opportunities and challenges for employees and companies, but how does it negate the need for professional communicators? Is this the transformation of product planning to an infinite number of employees in a room banging away on social media?

Businesses are becoming more social and rigid job descriptions will go away – OK businesses are becoming more social, but do we really think that everyone will move into a mass of generalist roles where we spend some of our day doing different jobs? How do we think that’s manageable? How do we think that’s a great idea? Why do we think that social media tools outweigh the value of real world experience, insight and knowledge? It doesn’t.

David closes by saying:

If "everyone" is a spokesperson to some degree—does public relations cease to exist? It’s probably not that simple since the reality is that "communications" will not end up as a free for all activity, but as something which evolves into more than just communicating but also interacting. In my mind—the key is relationships. Manage the relationships between all critical stakeholders who can make or break your business, and you hold the key to a more sustainable way of doing business. Sound like PR?

He’s right no it’s not that simple. There won’t be a free for all.  And yes PR is about managing relationships, it’s also about communications, it’s about problem solving, it’s about strategy, it’s about hard decisions, it’s about many things beyond using tools.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we focus the discussion on how social media enhances an organization rather than trying to create doomsday scenarios which frankly aren’t based on any insight into how a business works, and shows a complete disrespect for the knowledge, skills and insights of a whole cabal of professional people beyond PR.

Pithy phrases and throwaway opinions don’t move the exploration of social media forward, they just reduce it’s credibility.

But of course, that’s just my opinion and your mileage may vary.


Are you qualified to comment? Do you care? Then don’t expect me to.

[Moderate rant warning]

I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who feel fully qualified to offer sweeping – nay visionary – guidance and commentary on an industry or profession with limited or often no knowledge. 

Well, when I say they have limited knowledge, I mean to say that they have about as much knowledge about PR, as I have about the shipping business (after receiving a package).

PR is one of the businesses that most often enjoys this advice. It’s a magnet for these pompous posting ignoramuses.  

Too often these people equate the entire business with pure media relations.  Of course media relations remains incredibly important, but it’s just one element of our work.

By the way just in case you are concerned that you won’t be able to spot these “experts” don’t worry it’s pretty easy they normally say: “PR is dead (or dying)”.

That’s the giveaway.

Todd Defren responds to the latest installment.

I won’t link directly to the author as I have tired of doing so. By all means have a read of it but actively question it.  Don’t tell anyone, but having a PR strategy that is based on the fact that “stories spread on their own without a lot of pushing” probably won’t set you up for success.

In the meantime here are some more worthy links:

Better to keep your mouth closed…

Well I’ve been keeping rather busy lately (cars, houses, family) and my list of things to blog has been growing ever longer.  Thankfully (in some cases) others continue to be more productive in hitting the publish button.

A wise women* once told me that the great thing about opinions was that anyone could have one, and the downside of opinions was the same.

I’ve been blogging since 2002 and I would love to know how many blog posts since that time have had the words dying, dead, doomed or extinct in the headline. Quite a number I’d imagine.

The interesting thing is that no many how times these posts appear (and are proved false), they keep coming.

On my list of things to blog last week was a rebuttal to Fuat Kircaali’s mindless post on the extinction of Public Relations.

Of course these posts always focus on the press release which (un)fortunately highlights the author’s lack of domain knowledge – but doesn’t stop them offering their opinion anyway.

For the record, Public Relations is all about helping individuals and organizations to connect and communicate with their audience. The continued acceleration on online media, tools and channels, along with the (shock) continued existence of traditional media, means that PR will be around for a long time yet. Sorry about that – we do seem to be an inconvenience for a lot of people based on the number of posts forecasting our demise.

Luckily there are people who are far more productive than I in translating “oh I must write about that” to actually doing it, so I am delighted that Mr. Shel Holtz beat me to it in his post: Bold predictions or just plain hubris?:

The post is as preposterous as a lot of Kircaali’s other assertions. For example, he suggests that 70% of today’s PR agencies won’t survive the “fast approaching media avalanche” because 90% of today’s PR firms are still in business because the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does not allow companies to communicate material information on websites.

I’d pay real money to know where Kircaali gets his statistic. I could have sworn all those agencies were out there helping organizations build and maintain positive relationships with constituent publics. How silly of me.

Further, Kircaali says there are only three kinds of agencies. Those using Ulitzer every day as a channel for their clients’ news, those who are using Ulitzer to publish bylined articles and tapping into its syndication features (these are the agencies, of course, that will survive), and those who are “horrified by the idea that their clients may actually find out about (Ulitzer).” Those must be the doomed 70%.

Preposterous just about sums it up.

*Hello Mum

It’s the week for them obviously…

You know we should all try and be more reasonable here, there are too many people taking themselves too seriously online. I hope I’m not turning into one of them.

Post my last rant, this e-mail appeared today:

“As a blogger on public relations or marketing, you may be interested in commenting on the…”


Can you imagine pitching a story to a reporter in a similar fashion:

“Hi, as a journalist writing about fashion or automobiles or household products, you may be interested in writing about…”

And that pitch was about media montoring…